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Religious Studies
RS 110
Peter Frick

RS 110 Module 03 Medieval Judaism − 500 and Later, center of Jewish life shifted to Babylonia (today Iran) − Yeshiva o Schools of talmudic learning o Interpretation of Talmud o There is never really an end to the interpretation of Torah  There is always more understanding/meaning that can occur  Current context is important o Goan/Geonim were the professors  People who kept learning and culture alive  Reminded Jewish people of their roots in Torah − Encounters with Christianity and Islam o First time the 3 religions entered into a 'dialogue' o Those who were learned within the religious took notice of philosophies of others − Question of intellect o When scripture is based on divine origin and revelation, what is the role of reason and intellect?  Do you believe blindly?  Do you believe against reason?  Can you marry reason and faith? o These questions existed in all 3 religious in the 8th century The Karites - 800 - 900 − Followers of Anan ben David − Interpreted Torah very literally − Accepted only written Torah as divinely authoritative o Any human/oral interpretation was rejected  It did not have the same authority − Same position as Sauddecees − Mother tongue was Arabic o Early scriptures were Aramaic or Hebrew o Translation had to occur o We have Jewish groups who are linguistically separate from one another − Reason was more important than in rabbinic interpretation − Use of ones own intellect is important in understanding religious matters Three Important Rabbis − Saadia ben Joseph (882 - 942) o Mother tongue was Arabic o From Babylon o Translated Hebrew bible in Arabic o Jews living in Babylon now had access o Hope that muslims would read the Torah − There is no inherent contradiction between Revelation and Intellect − Revelation is a gift that complements reason − Reason makes revelation intelligible − No inherent conflict; allegorical interpretations are possible − Wrote The Book of Beliefs and Opinions − Only Judiasm is divinely inspired truth − Defended oral tradition as legitimate Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak (1040 - 1105) − Often referred to as Rashi − Most significant commentator on the Talmud − Lived north of Paris o Talmuic learning has moved from Babylonia to Europe − Translated Hebrew works into French Judah Halevi (1075 - 1141) − Lived in Spain − Talmud scholar − Neo-Platonic philosopher − Poet − Wrote The Kuzari o People living near Caspian Sea o Searching for the 'true religion' o Examined the 'big 3', chose Judaism o Christianity and Islam were 'stages' in spiritual growth o Judaism represented divine revelation that was authentic in final forms o Proof: given history of Jewish people, survival against all odds, o God's support must be authentic  "The Eternity of Israel" The 13 Principles of the Jewish Faith Maimonides (1135 - 1204) − Moses ben Maimon − Rambam − Most important Jewish philosopher − Born in Spain, ended up in Egypt − Espoused Aristotelian philosophical framework o Renaissance around this time o Islamic philosophers o Thomas Aquinas (Christian philosopher) o Later in Europe plato gained upper hand − Rejected Aristotelian notion of eternity of creation − God can never be not active - it's impossible − God is an active cause − If God was not active, the world did not exist − Accepted Aristotelian categories of species o Affirmed Genus, Species, Group o God conceived the natural world in 'groups' o God is concerned with preservation of groups rather than individuals, EXCEPT with humans o Humans are special on an individual level o Aristotle was one of first philosophers to examine world from natural point of view − Wrote Guide for the Perplexed o Title assumes confusion − He was seen as 'intellectualizing' the Jewish Faith − He was trying to understand the very essence of the faith − Present essence of the faith in a philosophical framework − Working out of religion in a framework that is coherent and does not violate intellect − Not really accepted within the larger Jewish community Maimonides articulated basics of Jewish faith in 13 principles − Existence of God the Creator − God's unity − God's eternity − God's incorporeality − Obligation to Worship God Alone − Truth of the message of the prophets − Primacy of Moses' prophecy − Torah as God's revelation to Moses − Immutability of the Torah − God's Omniscience − Retribution in this world and the world after − Coming of the Messiah − Resurrection of the dead From Europe to the New World − Post-babylonian spread - dispersion of Jews into Europe − Ashkenazim o Jews in Germany, France, Poland o Spoke Yiddish (Combination of German words and Hebrew) o Name goes back to Son of Noah in He
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